The WTCC, the first FIA World Championship to stage an event in Russia, is back at the Moscow Raceway.
Eighty kilometres west of the Russian capital, this 3,931m track combines long straights with technically demanding sequences of twists and turns. “Although there are some opportunities for overtaking, it’s more like the Hungaroring than the Salzburgring,” explains Sébastien Loeb. “There are not many fast bends, and plenty of winding sections. We’ve seen all season that our C-Elysee WTCCs are at ease on all types of circuits. So we should be competitive in Moscow.”
A FOURTH CITROEN C-ELYSEE WTCC IN THE MIX
For Citroen Racing, this meeting will be one to remember; as it sees the team enter four cars for the first time. After several months of intensive preparation, Ma Qing Hua will line up on the starting grid in Citroën C-Elysee WTCC n°33. “I can’t wait to get out and race again, in a high-quality championship and as part of a very professional outfit,” says the Chinese driver. “A few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time at the technical centre in Versailles. It was really special to see the old Dakar Rally and WRC cars, which have won so many races and titles. I got the opportunity to meet the whole team and we spent a long time getting me set up in the C-Elysée WTCC. I had taken part in several test sessions over the winter, and I then did another day in Navarra, which enabled us to work more specifically on the setup of my car.”
Three weeks ago, Qing Hua attended the Slovakia Ring meeting with his new team: “That was a great experience too. Citroën Racing seems to be like one big family, and by the end of the weekend, I felt like I was part of it. So, in Moscow, I won’t have to worry about finding out how the team operates during the races. I’m ready to go and looking forward to a new challenge!”
Jose-Maria Lopez has led the World Championship all season, a reward for his consistency. With seven podium finishes, including three race wins, in nine outings, the Argentine driver is also one of only three drivers to have scored points in every race.
Yvan Muller, who also has three race wins to his name, has paid a heavy price for some slip-ups along the way, finding himself 41 points adrift of his teammate. The gap is certainly not insurmountable, if his results improve. “It’s definitely the hardest season I’ve had in WTCC! From 2010 to 2013, I only had one DNF a year. I’ve had two already this year, and I hope that’s my lot! You win a championship by being consistent and scoring points in every race.”
Four points behind the four-time WTCC World Champion, Sébastien Loeb has notched up nine top-10 finishes. Although his lack of experience compared to his rivals has sometimes shown, Loeb has made an exceptional start to the season, far exceeding his initial goals.
The performances of its three drivers have given Citroen a strong lead in the Manufacturers’ standings, some 143 points ahead of the second-placed team.
For the only time this season, the meeting will begin on the Saturday morning. The two free practice sessions are scheduled for 09.00 and 11.30, while qualifying will start at 14.30. On the Sunday, the two races will be held in quick succession, at 13.15 and 14.25.